Planning Your Next Prairie Project is Easy!

/1/ Choose your project

Whether you are dreaming big or simply want to “get your feet wet” and experiment a little with a few native plants, you have a wide range of options for your project. Here are some to get you started:


/2/ Decide the size and location of your project

Knowing your end goal for your project will help you determine the size and location of your native planting. Do you have some free space in your existing landscaping where you want to try a few native plants? Or maybe you have a problem with deer eating your flowers and you’d like to plant deer-resistant native grasses and wildflowers. Possibly you have been dreaming of turning part of your back yard into a meadow, or installing a butterfly sanctuary so you can participate in the monarch way-station project. Whatever your needs and desires, it’s best to start with a small and manageable size that you can easily maintain. You can always increase the size once your initial planting is established.


/3/ Determine the growing conditions of your location

A little sleuthing will help you determine the growing conditions of your selected location. Pay attention to how many hours a day the sun shines on your plot. Check the moisture periodically – does the plot drain well after a rain, or is it one of the last places to dry out? Dig in to the soil to determine whether the soil type is loam, clay, sand, or a mixture.


/4/ Learn which plants will work best for your project

Different native plants thrive in different conditions, so you will want to choose plants according to their preference for sun exposure, moisture, and soil type.

Sun exposure – Full Sun – Part Sun/Part Shade – Full Shade

Moisture – Wet – Medium (Mesic) – Dry

Soil Type – Loam, Clay, Sand

You will also want to consider the bloom period, color, and height of each plant. If you are planting a butterfly garden, you will want to choose species that attract butterflies or provide food for their larvae. For attracting pollinators, it is good to have at least 3 different species blooming in each season. Grasses provide color and texture through the fall and the winter, as well as seeds for birds.

Also consider your own personal preferences – do you like vibrant color? grasses? tall sunflowers waving in the wind? Or do you prefer a more compact appearance? Diversity in your native plantings will add plentiful wildlife support, aesthetic interest, and beauty year-round.


/5/ Design the layout of your project

Finally, organize all the information you have gathered and begin sketching out a plan for your project. A general rule of thumb is to plan one plant per square foot of space. If you want to stretch your budget, you can easily plan one plant per 1 1/2 to 2 square feet. The further apart the plants are spaced, the more you will need to attend to weed control until the spaces are filled in with new growth.  Allow extra space for larger species.

Consider the height, color, and bloom time when placing your plants. Include groupings of 3 to 5 or more of the same species if you desire a solid splash of color.

We can help you plan your project! At our spring and summer native plant sale events you can browse our selection of over 70 species of native plants and learn the specifics of each plant from our educational displays. In the summer, you can tour our display gardens and observe the native plants in bloom. We will step you through your project, from the dream stages all the way to implementation and maintenance.